Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sea World--ghetto oompa loompa style

Today we went to the Ocean World in Yeliu and it was one of the best experiences of my entire life. Managed to inadvertently let my mom in on yet another quintessential Taiwan moment. At first I admit I was skeptical, I mean, I come from a place famous for Sea World and The San Diego Zoo. So, I knew this would be pretty crap comparatively. But Naomi suggested we go since the weather was sucky. And hey, the aquarium—uh, they called it an “underwater tunnel”, a bit of a misnomer as it was actually an underground cavelike tunnel full of sea life in tanks full of seawater…i.e. an aquarium, but no matter—sounded cool, so why not. I wasn’t going to be this San Diegan snob who denied others the chance to marvel at sea life just because I come from the city that won the genetic lottery as far as spectacular displays of animals in captivity go. But little did I expect the Taiwanese treasures therein. I would not even be able to imagine the scenarios we beheld—it was like the best dark comedy ever. First we were rushed into the shabby stadium—do not pass go, do not collect 200!--because the last show was at 3:30 and it was 3:15 when we arrived! Oh My! There were only 12 of us in a stadium that seats 3500. Yes, they needed every warm body they could get, that’s for sure. They herded the dolphins over from their sad 12x12 tank to get them to do some tricks. One of them was apparently too ashamed to perform as he stayed off to the side and wouldn’t let the handlers manipulate him into balancing a ball or jumping through hoops. Then, at the end of the dolphin portion…the handlers broke into a dance coordinated with the dolphins to what we believe was a Japanese disco song. I’m pretty sure they all committed suicide afterward (am I referring to the dolphins or the handlers? My mom made the crack “I bet this is a cushy job” at one point). But they had no reason to be depressed as the next act was far more pathetic. The seals came out with their handler. the girl did all the tricks, the male stood there and made noises and did nothing and got fed (typical). Anyway, the seal handler basically made out with the girl seal while the male seal stood and yawned and sort of barked occasionally. At each portion of the show an audience member got to go down and meet/pet/feed/whatever the animals. During the seal portion the guy sitting with his wife and two sons in the row next to us decided to volunteer, so he ran down, leaving his 2 and 5 year old in the stands while his wife rushed to the front to take pictures. Mind you, we were all in row 20 or higher, under cover b/c it was raining, so these two toddlers are sitting in the row next to us while the father goes to have his turn with the female seal and his wife eagerly takes pictures of them in flagrante delecto 20 rows below. Not like anyone wouldn’t know where the toddlers were since each of us was occupying our own acre of seating. Moving 0n, at the end of the seal portion we were pretty sure the show was over…but why would we ever think that? Actually, the best part was yet to come.

So…3 men in pink leopard skin Speedos come out and start performing for the 12 of us. They all look like former Olympic divers gone to seed. They were all wearing some type of makeup..for reasons that will become clear later when they are revealed to be part of a diving clown troupe. Did I mention the pink leopard skin speedos? Because they were like performers unto themselves as they rode up and around and perilously down. Anyway, back to the weird circus divers. They dove from towering heights! They dove into the same water that the seals and dolphins had been performing in. The danced and made effeminate arm movements. They did a balletic arabesque as they ran off the stage…waving goodbye to 12 very shocked people. The sad, small rusty stage in the middle of God-knows-where Taiwan where you see just what can happen when athletes don’t go to college…or decide to join gay performance troupes and search for a place they can go and not be outcasts. That place would have to be one full of men who don’t bat an eyelash at wearing pink, dancing around on command, and crossdressing. That place would be Taiwan. When the divers were done, 2 clowns came out. They were dressed up as women and had enormous fake balloon breasts. They had the amazing task of riling up the 12 of us. In the end they resorted to fart jokes and popping their breasts. That’s because, in Taiwan, nothing is funnier than crossdressing and farting. It was pure comedic genius. Then suddenly…they stripped, because, ta-da, they too were divers wearing pink leopard Speedos! Yay! They pranced, they danced, they dove from 50 foot platforms, they did the same tricks as the seals. My only amazement was that the handlers didn’t have little fish treats for them after every dive. They were named dima, dinka, glinka, chad and Anderson and I knew they must have been eastern Europeans because I couldn’t think of any other white races who would have such excellent athletic training and yet be willing to sell themselves into such utter shame. Turns out they are Belarusian. We met one afterward, and while we were indeed laughing at him and not with him as far as the performance…and the whole situation—shitball stadium in Taiwan, very uncomfortable objectification of other humans: watch what the foreigners will do if we pay them! -- we did genuinely applaud their ability. When we said “you guys were really amazing” he said, “come back this summer! We are redoing the whole show! We are adding synchronized swimmers!” and it was adorable. And I do hope people will flock to see them. And I do hope that someone skims that tank they are jumping into because…damn! At the end of their performance there was one very young taiwanese boy who was clearly enraptured by their death-defying feats and wanted to take pictures. and years from now when his parents want him to be an engineer but he prances around in pink bikini bottoms at the local pool, they will curse the day they went to Ocean World.

So then we went to observe the Goldfish Festival being touted on every free wall space. And it turns out that the Goldfish fest was basically like a collection of fish in home tanks from Morty’s fish emporium. It was so ghetto. I think one of my relatives who incessantly wears grey sweatpants, drinks whiskey and listens to police scanners could have whipped up something more impressive. But whatever, I mean, a bunch of the fish looked mentally retarded, and they were super cute, so that was nice.

The Sea Tunnel was pretty decent—totally awesome fish including one huge tank packed with piranhas, half of which had very serious flesh wounds. Fun fact: piranhas can devour animals and humans within minutes of them entering the water with an open wound. Yum. But my favorites were the enormous sea turtles-- the big dude kept biting the girl turtle’s ass!-- and the black and white polka dotted mini manta ray. Holy crap, Audrey Hepburn had nothing on that girl. If you ever need evidence of a creator, go to the ocean park. Not only will you find yourself laughing at their very disturbing show, but you will see some of the most amazing sea life. You realize Finding Nemo is a dull black and white compared to reality. They were stunning. So stunning, in fact, that we didn’t notice that the park was closing(we were the only ones there so it wasn’t like we could tell by the crowd of people running for the door) and we ended up getting chased out of the tunnel by the janitor who wanted to go home. I had had a major cultural faux pas when I misunderstood the girl who came down to say the park was closing. When she told us to take our time and not to worry about the fact that the doors would be locked when we got out what she really meant was “get the hell OUT of here!!!” whoops. Heh heh.

When I am not so tired I will blog about the other quintessentially Taiwanese experience we had yesterday when we got hijacked and taken to a tea village for 5 hours, but I must sleep! More adventure assuredly awaits tomorrow. I must be lucid. One never knows when foreign divers will appear in bikini briefs and make fart jokes.


Blogger Amy said...


I am still trying to picture what an adorable mentally retarded goldfish would look like.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Marcia Fry - Vance Fry said...

This was very funny. I love the part about the parents cursing the day they went to Ocean World.


8:05 AM  
Blogger Naomi said...

I'm so glad you blogged so proficiently about our little experience, and also so glad I suggested Ocean World! Well, I guess our directionally-challenged driver's internet research did, but whatever.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:56 PM  

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